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Saturday, November 26, 2022

Italy: Holocaust survivor opens Senate session

ROME ( Associated Press) – Italy’s fascist past and immediate future, ruled by a party with neo-fascist roots, were thrown into the spotlight on Thursday as a Holocaust survivor presided over the opening of the Senate’s first session since the recent general election. .

Senator Liliana Segre, 92, for life, began session in the Upper House, replacing a more senior senator who was unable to attend. His speech formally started the process that would predictably bring to power the Brothers of Italy party, the largest-voted party on 25 September and which has its origins in a neo-fascist movement. This would be Italy’s first far-right government since the end of World War II.

In his speech, Segre highlighted the “symbolic value” of the coincidence between his work and the historical moment in which the country is experiencing. He said he is presiding over the Senate on the eve of the centenary of the March on Rome, which brought fascist dictator Benito Mussolini to power, and when war returned to Europe with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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“Today I am especially impressed by the role that fate gives me,” Segre said in front of a silent camera. “In this month of October, which marks the centenary of the march on Rome that began the fascist dictatorship, it is up to me to temporarily assume the presidency of this temple of democracy which is the Senate of the Republic.”

Segre was one of the few Italian children to escape deportation to a Nazi death camp, and has been talking about the Holocaust in schools for decades. President Sergio Mattarella appointed his senator for life in 2018 on the anniversary of the passage of fascist-era racial discrimination laws.

In his speech, Segre recalled with emotion the laws that prevented Jewish children like him from attending school.

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“It’s impossible for me not to feel kind of dizzy remembering the same girl who was heartbroken and lost today in 1938, who was forced to leave her bench in elementary school by racist laws. And that by a twist of fate, the same girl occupies the most prestigious bench of the Senate today”.

200 senators, including brothers from Italy, led by Ignazio La Russa, gave him a vigorous standing ovation. La Russa, who had glimpses of his collection of Mussolinian artifacts, was later elected President of the Senate.

The Italian Brothers, headed by Giorgia Meloni, have their origins in the Italian social movement, founded in 1946 by former officials of the Mussolini regime and which attracted fascist sympathizers. It was a far-right party until the 1990s, when it became a national coalition and made efforts to distance itself from its neo-fascist past.

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